EBM Toolbox: Developing Sustainable EBM Tools

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.

By Sarah Carr

A recent study by researchers from Duke University in the US found that the process for developing most EBM software tools is fundamentally different from the development of commercial software. Many EBM software tools, for example, are a by-product of academic research and are therefore not developed with a formal business plan or significant start-up funds. In addition, the developers of many EBM software tools are opposed to charging license or service fees because they limit who is able to use the tool.

Nonetheless, like commercial software, EBM software does require sources of sustained revenue - to keep tools up to date with new technology and research, to fix bugs, and to improve functionality. The Duke report looked at factors that made EBM software tools financially sustainable and offered recommendations for developers. These include:

  • Plan for development of documentation, training, marketing, technical support, and software maintenance after the software has been released;
  • Use professional software engineers and engineering practices that promote sustainability;
  • Seek multiple revenue streams;
  • Explore open source licensing models; and
  • Commit to "championing" the tool for at least several years.

The full report is available at www.ebmtools.org/sites/ebmtools/files/SustainableFinancingFinalReport.pdf.

(Sarah Carr is coordinator for the EBM Tools Network. Learn more about EBM tools and sign up for Network updates at www.ebmtools.org.)

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